Television, Japan, and Globalization

This is another publication that took a while to come out, but it has been worth the wait: a truly  high-level anthology on Japanese television, a still woefully understudied topic in the English literature. 


Edited by Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, Eva Tsai, and JungBong Choi

Published by the Center for Japanese Studies, The University of Michigan, 2010.

ISBN 978-1-929280-58-2 (cloth); ISBN 978-1-929280-59-9 (paper)

List Price: $70.00 (cloth); $26.00 (paper)

“This book opens a new field of inquiry with untold riches. Long the competitor of cinema--although now a major investor--Japanese television has historically been the bane of Japanese film scholars. No more. TELEVISION, JAPAN, AND GLOBALIZATION collects a powerful set of essays on identity politics, industrial transformations, stardom, media convergence, and diaspora. We have been waiting for a book like this. Now that it is here, the future of Japanese moving image studies has clearly come into view.”

--Abe Mark Nornes, The University of Michigan (Cinema Babel)

TELEVISION, JAPAN, AND GLOBALIZATION is a collection of essays that describe vivid and compelling examples of Japanese media and analyze them with sophisticated theoretical methods. The book makes a stunning contribution to the literature of television studies, which has increasingly recognized its problematic focus on U.S. and Western European media, and a compelling intervention in discussions of globalization, through its careful attention to contradictory and complex phenomena on Japanese TV. Case studies include talent and stars, romance, anime, telops, game/talk shows, and live action nostalgia shows. The book also looks at Japanese television from a political and economic perspective, with attention to Sky TV, production trends, and Fuji TV as an architectural presence in Tokyo. The combination of textual analysis, brilliant argument, and historical and economic context makes this book ideal for media studies audiences. Its most important contribution may be the way these essays move the study of Japanese popular culture beyond the tired truisms about postmodernism and open up new lines of thinking about television and popular culture within and between nations.

Table of contents:

  • Why Japanese television now? / Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto (Kurosawa)
  • Banishment of Murdoch's Sky in Japan: a tale of David and Goliath? / JungBong Choi (Digitalization of Television in Japan)
  • "Ordinary foreigners" wanted: multinationalization of multicultural questions in a Japanese TV talk show / Koichi Iwabuchi (Recentering Globalization)
  • The uses of routine: NHK's amateur singing contest in historical perspective / Shuhei Hosokawa (Karaoke Around the World)
  • Scaling the TV station: Fuji Television, digital development, and fictions of a global Tokyo / Stephanie DeBoer 
  • The dramatic consequences of playing a lover: stars and televisual culture in Japan / Eva Tsai
  • Kind participation: postmodern consumption and capital with Japan's telop tv / Aaron Gerow
  • Revolutionary girls: from Oscar to Utena / Noriko Aso
  • Dream labor in dream factory: Japanese commercial television in the era of market fragmentation / Gabriella Lukacs
  • Can't live without happiness: reflexivity and Japanese TV drama / Kelly Hu
  • Becoming prodigal Japanese: portraits of Japanese Americans on Japanese television / Christine R. Yano (Tears of Longing)
  • Global and local materialities of anime / Mitsuyo Wada-Marciano (Nippon Modern)
  • Becoming Kikaida: Japanese television and generational identity in Hawaiʻi / Hirofumi Katsuno.

My contribution analyses the phenomenon of all those subtitles (more properly called "telop") on Japanese television, especially variety programming, where it seems anything someone says and does is emphasized and interpreted through colorful telop on screen. Critically using Ota Shoichi's work on owarai (especially the boke and tsukkomi in manzai) and Azuma Hiroki's work on database consumption, I argue about how Japanese TV not only reads itself, but encourages viewers to contribute their labor as readers to enhance the value of the televisual commodity.

TELEVISION, JAPAN, AND GLOBALIZATION is published by the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan, which also put out my Page of Madness and Research Guide to Japanese Film Studies. Their books are a little bit hard to order. You can get them through Amazon (both in paperback and hardcover) or you can order them directly from CJS.

Update: I have made my contribution available on the Yale repository.

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